I have maintained for a little while now that we will look back at some of the things that we ourselves did as a part of civilization today, things that we take for granted, and wonder how we ever thought that it was the right thing to do. And sometimes we will even swallow our nagging sense of injustice so that it will not be disruptive to our own sense of well being. It is true that we can learn through history, but there is never an end to this process, it seems. When will true justice be really served?
Who are my people, who are my brothers and sisters?
I am back home after more than a month of travel through Peru and India. I now have a break in the travels. I am finally in a position to start preparing for my bike ride in July. The training has started in earnest. Here are some pictures from the last three days of bike rides. It is great to be back in a familiar place!
Visiting a lot of places in different parts of the world in a short period of time can be a jarring experience. People and their circumstances are different everywhere. Life in relative isolation in suburbia in the USA is very different from life in a big city in India with the constant human interaction, which is again different from the life of a farmer or miner living on the Altiplano (high plains) of Peru.
Most “common” people in the world are busy every day dealing with their own life circumstances, basically dealing with their day-to-day needs. I think that people try find some kind of comfort, and maybe happiness, in their own life circumstances, without necessarily trying to compare themselves to their better-off counterparts in some other part of the world. The only kind of world they really know and understand is the one that they have experienced during their lifetime.
Many of us are products of our circumstances in life that were beyond our control – where we were born, who our parents were, our family background, our friends, the culture around us, our religion, where we ended up in due to various circumstances not entirely in our control, etc.. We have developed a sense of values and morals that came out of our upbringing and experiences. We developed our own philosophy for living our lives based on our experiences. Perhaps we even find ourselves comfortable in life without too much struggle. It takes guts and determination to break out of a place that we find ourselves in “naturally”.
People in different parts of the world are going through similar adventures in their lives, but they do so in different environments primarily because of life circumstances outside their control. I do not think there can be one formula that works for all of us when it comes to determining how we should all live our lives. The question I have for myself is if I have the ability to be comfortable outside our own comfort zone in life? Am I able to understand what somebody else living in another part of the world is going through when I interact with that person? Can I find a way to empathize with people whom I am unfamiliar with – people from a different land? I think we can all learn, but perhaps it is easier to not take the trouble, and perhaps even find a way to condemn.
We may be ready to condemn people who are different from us, even when it is very likely that we would act the way they do if we happened to have been born in their shoes. It may be best not to judge other people blindly without getting to better understand where they come from and what drives them.
In my opinion, this is a subject that our politicians and religious organizations, in general, have made very difficult to address rationally. The citizenship seem to have a more nuanced set of opinions on this subject than you are led to believe, opinions that seem to change little over time. In my mind, the topic also seems to dominate the national discussion excessively, to the detriment of other issues that can more critically impact the well being of the nation. But it does seem to be a good topic to push agendas and foster divisiveness. The politicians of today are mostly a bunch of hypocrites.
I recommend that you read, or listen to, the entire poem.
When we come to it We, this people, on this wayward, floating body Created on this earth, of this earth Have the power to fashion for this earth A climate where every man and every woman Can live freely without sanctimonious piety Without crippling fear
When we come to it We must confess that we are the possible We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world That is when, and only when We come to it.”
You have to understand that some of the garbage being spewed out these days when it comes to influencing the politics of this country comes from religious leaders who are supposed to be the voices of morality.
There is a part of this country that is so afraid of the changes going on around them that they will do anything it takes to try to go back to the so called “good old times”, a time that cannot be brought back, indeed a time that might have been good for some but not for many others (think racism and slavery). I used to think that it is pointless to stand in the way of change, but if folks are willing to do anything it takes to twist the political system, to change it and stack it permanently in a regressive way, then who knows.